There’s been a lot of new in my life recently. New place, new job, new goals, new books, new running injuries (that’s another post entirely) and brand new ways of looking at myself and the world. In all this newness there is confusion, joy, grief, anger, and pride.
There are also mistakes. Lots of them.
I bought a button once, years ago, at a thrift shop that said “Mistakes made while you wait“. I had almost forgotten about it until the summer of 2013 happened and everything changed. Now, I can’t get that phrase out of my head.
Hi, my name is Lisa, and I’m a mistake factory. Take a number and have a seat. I’ll have a mistake made for you while you wait. Do you want a small one? We have those. A big one? That will cost extra but I can do that too. We even have a special on if you buy in bulk.
Check the bins over there. You’ll see the ‘discard bin’ where we’ve thrown mistakes we’re trying to forget. The bin isn’t very deep though – just mention the not-so-secret code (hint: it’s just about anything that reminds me of … anything) and you’ll find what you’re looking for. That time you thought one of your staff was off but didn’t see the message that they were just late? It’s in there. The time you sent an half finished email. Oh yea, there are a couple of those. We also have so many mistakes related to budgets and finances (read: math) that we’re considering starting a new product line.
You’re also welcome to peruse the Hall of Fame. These items are a little pricer, but they’re a great addition to any highlight reel. Remember when the embedded video didn’t play as part of the welcome presentation for the entire incoming class? That has pride of place next to absently getting off on the wrong floor of your own apartment building and attempting (poorly) to pretend you meant to do that all along.
You want failure? I got it. You want embarrassment? We have stories. Step right up and take advantage of our deep discounts. Everything must go!
… or should it?
While I’m still one of the more productive mistake factories in business (I welcome competitors – heck I have some extra bins lying around if you want to pool our inventory), I’d like to think I’m one of the best learners around.
I have the most expansive curriculum to draw from.
Those half formed emails that escape my inbox? A lesson in slowing down. All those budget missteps? Learning to ask questions and not being afraid to say “I don’t know” – how can I know if I’ve never done it before?
That thing with the elevator? Nothing profound there, I just need to pay attention. Or get more sleep. Or … pay more attention.
So while mistakes are heartbreaking, frustrating and confidence-rattling, they’re also enlightening and bring with them a fascinating opportunity for connection and conversation. I’ve jumped off my pedestal and knocked it down so there’s plenty of material to make a path wide enough for me and you to walk this journey together. As my good friend (he just doesn’t know it yet) Bowie said, I have no idea where I’m going, but I can absolutely promise you it won’t be boring.
Anyone up for the factory tour? I hear the tour guide is hilarious.
Behind the Scenes Next Post:
“Just” A Conference Attendee – Reflections from #NODAC2013